When I was little, I read a lot of Tintin. My mum watched the cartoon adaptations as a child, and we always used to go on holiday to France, where Tintin is very popular, so I guess that’s what got me into them. The first one I read was King Ottokar’s Sceptre.
The gist of it is that Tintin finds a briefcase on a park bench one day, and after returning it to its owner joins him on an adventure to the fictional country of Syldavia to prevent a fascist group from their mission to rob the King of his ceremonial sceptre (which once belonged to his ancestor King Ottokar), which will undermine his rule and create political instability. When I was seven (or however old I was when I first read this – under ten), I didn’t care about any of that. I just cared about the adventure, the travelling to foreign lands, the battles with bad guys and the triumph of Tintin. Rereading it in later years I began to understand and appreciate the political side of the story and the intelligent subtleties in Herge’s work, which you can read more about on the official Tintin website here.
That’s the thing about comic books, whatever they’re about: there is always more to them that you first think. I also read a lot of The Beano and The Dandy when I was little (remember them?) so reading panels instead of paragraphs has always felt natural. Only as I grew older and my big sister started reading Batman did I realise that there was a whole world of comic books and graphic novels that I not only had no idea about but also did not realise was often considered ‘specialist’ or a particular interest. As I’ve grown older (I’m now in my mid twenties) and comic books have become more popular thanks to a more mainstream appreciation of the artwork and ALL THE MARVEL MOVIES (phase two anyone?), as well as shows like The Big Bang Theory and non-Marvel movies like Batman, Kick-Ass, Hellboy and Dredd, I am very excited to discover new ones.
After seeing the Hellboy movies I decided to give the comic books a try, knowing that there were several I could read. I’m now up to volume five and am desperate to read more. I love Hellboy, as it combines amazing artwork with intelligent writing and plenty of references to legends, folklore and myths, much of them British. The movies are great too, though they didn’t do that well commercially so it seems there won’t be any more. However, I will continue to read Hellboy and I hope it remains popular and more come out in the future.
The important thing to remember is that people who like comic books are not ‘geeks’ but people who appreciate a good story and good artwork, and often who like sci fi and fantasy too. Given that the SF and fantasy genre is HUGE in the book world, it stands to reason that the comic world is massive too. Shows like Game of Thrones, though not based on a comic, draw attention to the genre by being associated with events like Comic-Con and shops like Forbidden Planet. And how popular is Game of Thrones?
Luckily my boyfriend likes comic books too, and he has recently lent me one called Zombo (which is part of 2000AD, who also do Dredd), which I am currently reading. It’s about a secret government experiment who is part zombie, part human ghoul. I like it so far.
What are your favourite comic books?